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May 2013 Short Reviews (Lamia Vox, Saåad, Yellow6 & David Newlyn)

saåad_stereasunnefa

This here seal of the devil is one of those albums that I enjoy because one track grips me in particular, and that is the utterly majestic opener “Born from the Abyss”. It is a velvety layer cake of misty chants and deep, warm synths that perfectly recalls the heyday of Scandinavian dark ambient, roughly fifteen years ago. Certainly not out of place on a label like Cyclic Law, that’s for sure. The rest of this album, the work of St. Petersburg resident Alina Antonova, is nothing to scoff at either, but it is definitely a mood piece, a nostalgic amalgam of ethereal, darkwave, ritual, and ambient influences that epitomises goth atmosphere to me personally. It’s a fairly consistent album, but the best is at the start. Still, Sigillum Diaboli will be required fare for some of you, a dark work somewhere between raison d’être, Coph Nia, Arcana, and more recently, Rose Croix. [...read more...]

January 2013 Short Reviews (Black Light, Burial Hex, The Doomed Bird of Providence)

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Black Light

Black Light – Black Light [label]

Wisconsin-based, like their label Brave Mysteries, Black Light are one of the newer travellers on the neofolk path. Inspired by the European styles that went before, but with a touch of American outstretchedness to the sound. There’s the usual combination of a guitar base and male and female voices, backed with a selection of percussion and auxiliary melodic instruments like glockenspiel.

The tracks are pretty traditional, loyal more to the neofolk lineage than anything folky beyond that, and the sound is very lo-fi. I’d be inclined to [...read more...]

October 2012 Short Reviews (Almeeva, The Hogweed and The Aderyn, Naythen Wilson)

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EP#2

Almeeva – EP#2 [discogs]

Another cool little tape from BLWBCK records in France, this second EP by Almeeva (Gregory Hoepffner) holds a little over twenty minutes of excellent road music, halfway between dance and rock. Reminiscent of bands like Maserati, these tracks unavoidably make you feel like you’re speeding along a boulevard. A dry electronic beat, bass, and delayed snatches of guitar melody construct that atmosphere meticulously.

All of the tracks are short and sweet, not too heavy on the ears, although at some points, especially in the excellent “Flares”, Hoepffner dares to dive into some [...read more...]

July 2012 Short Reviews (Aspectee, Burial Hex, Miel Noir)

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Jour Cinq

Aspectee – Jour Cinq [discogs]

Aspectee’s Jour Cinq is a dark ambient album by the book, with well-constructed moods and gently drifting melodies. The ten tracks on here are all around 5-6 minutes in length and flow along rather evenly, with not all that much true excitement, but quite a few good melodies to be found. A track like “Illicit” tones it down a bit, focusing on more minimal tones, whereas “Roter Wald” invests more in a gripping synth melody, so there is some variation to be found as well.

This album doesn’t [...read more...]

May 2012 Short Reviews (Alcest, The Dwindlers, Sujo, Urna)

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Les Voyages de l'Âme

Alcest  - Les Voyages de l’Âme [discogs]

After a re-release of the excellent EP Le Secret and as previous full-length that has grown on me despite initial misgivings, I expected rather a lot from the new Alcest album. Certainly more of that magical dreamy mix of shoegaze fuzz and extreme metal influences. With that in mind, I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed. Most tracks on Les Voyages are what we at this point call by the book for Alcest, meticulously put together, but without any truly surprising or riveting riffs or [...read more...]

March 2012 Short Reviews (Agitated Radio Pilot, The Owl Service, Sturmpercht / Rauhnacht)

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In the Event of My Disappearance

Agitated Radio Pilot – In the Event of My Disappearance [discogs]

Alongside our own double release, In the Event of My Disappearance, released on China’s Midnight Productions, is one of the final ARP releases. And a fine one it is! Dave Colohan focuses mostly on piano-driven songs here, which is a new route compared to earlier albums. The songs are sparse, calm, and feature subtle additions of other instruments and vocals by guest artists like Michael Tanner and Yasmin Chaudhry.

All of the tracks breathe that calm beauty that characterises much [...read more...]

January 2012 Short Reviews (Akhet, His Electro Blue Voice, Ur)

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Akhet

Akhet – Akhet [discogs]

There are rare impromptu recording sessions where everything just comes together. Akhet is a result of one of those, an incedental collaboration by Paul van den Berg, Marc Verhaeghen, and Dirk Serries. The four long tracks on this LP released by Tonefloat clock to almost an hour, filled with quirky electronics, soft drones, and frantic guitar work. Throughout these improvised tracks, there is a mysterious and at times psychedelic atmosphere vaguely connected to the Egyptian of the name of this project.

As has been noticed my man listeners and reviewers, [...read more...]

October 2011 Short Reviews (Alasdair Roberts, Burial Hex, Haiku Funeral, Voice of Eye)

Substantia Innominata

Alasdair Roberts & Friends – Joy to the Person of My Love [discogs]

Joy to the Person of My Love

This Rif Mountain 7″ contains a duo of interpretations of 17th century songs. Scottish songster Roberts has made settings of these tunes for voice, acoustic guitar, flute, and whistle, which form a nice bridge between the sounds of the renaissance and of modern folk stylings.

I’m particularly fond of the B-side “False Astronomy”, which has a typical melody which reminds me a bit of older Christmas carols. Probably not that strange if I am [...read more...]

August 2011 Short Reviews (Café de l’Enfer, Locrian, Susan Matthews & Richard Moult, Z’ev & Jason Kahn)

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Café de l’Enfer – Marchant à quatre pattes au-devant de la rédemption [discogs]

Marchant à quatre pattes au-devant de la rédemption

This debut full-length by Café de l’Enfer on Steinklang is a typical piece of martial/neoclassical as we’ve come to know it for over a decade. The album seeks to confront the listener with the decadence of our age and ages past, drawing copiously from fin de siècle and interbellum imagery in the visual – mostly vintage pornography on the inside of the digipak – textual, and aural aspects of the release.

The music [...read more...]

May 2011 Short Reviews (Aderlating, Cubs, Dementia ad Vitam, Szymon Kaliski)

The Whispering Woods

Aderlating – Spear of Gold and Seraphim Bone Part One [discogs]

Spear of Gold and Seraphim Bone Part One

Delectable darkness comes from Aderlating recently, a project by Mories of Gnaw Their Tongues and Eric of Mowlawner. Not surprisingly, the album mixes dark ambient and drones with obscure black metal outbursts to create a dynamic set of compositions. Naturally, these styles mix well in creating a dark and oppressive atmosphere with occult undertones. The proportion between more and less intense pieces is balanced very well, with a good variance between pure abstract soundscapes, [...read more...]